Today on Hardball, Jim Cooper was on to discuss the Stupak amendment and how the House and Senate can work through it to reach a compromise. He had a long conversation with Chris Matthews about how conservative Democrats needed this vote to sign on to the bill. He said that people were confused about how to best maintain the Hyde Amendment status quo, among other things. He said that the bill is likely to be changed, and that the Senate could choose to move it away from the Stupak amendment in the end. He chastised the Rules Committee for distributing language that the Stupak Amendment codified the Hyde Amendment when that was the language from Stupak himself, and he said that the amendment would in fact, for the first time, restrict indirect taxpayer subsidies of reproductive choice services, rather than direct ones. He said that employers get a deduction of health care expenses on corporate taxes, and yet the Hyde Amendment doesn’t cover that employer-based health care even though there are indirect subsidies for it.

He talked like a college professor, weighing the pros and cons from afar, without mentioning that he voted for the Stupak Amendment.

And Chris Matthews never mentioned that he voted for it, either.

Similarly, Ezra Klein interviewed Jim Cooper today and let him blather on about the Stupak Amendment and how he understood it better than anyone in the House, again without ever revealing that he voted for it. And Klein never pressed him on that.

I mean, read this argument from Cooper:

Before the Stupak amendment, many of my friends had not realized that the government gives a $250 billion annual subsidy to employer-sponsored health care. If you understand today’s system, the Hyde amendment bans direct subsidies of abortion. It does not ban indirect subsidies of abortion, in particular the $250 billion that goes to employer-based health care. The bishops never noticed that. But this is the way education works in a democracy. It’s not easy or simple. But when people begin making decisions, they learn about lots of things they never noticed before.

It’s the same with procedural things. In the Rules Committee’s explanation of the Stupak amendment, they said flat out that the Stupak amendment codifies the Hyde amendment. Most people didn’t realize that that’s the description from the Stupak amendment’s advocates, not necessarily the judgment of the Rules Committee’s staff. Like many things in Congress, lots of folks did not pay attention to the details. It looked like it just continued current law. But this turned out to be very important.

Right, so only the wise Jim Cooper understood the implications of the Stupak Amendment. And he went ahead and voted for it. So then I can assume that Jim Cooper wants to ban abortion coverage for everyone who receives coverage from an employer, since they are the recipient of indirect federal subsidies. Cooper is effectively saying that there should be no abortion coverage whatsoever. That’s his words, not mine.

(By the way, Matthews had Kent Conrad on as well to talk about the Stupak Amendment without revealing that Conrad voted for similar language in the Senate Finance Committee. The lack of disclosure is simply amazing.)

digby: Goldilocks Was Betrayed

All the Democrats were using some odd rhetoric on TV today. When asked directly if they would vote for a bill that had a Stupak amendment they kept saying that they were going to work to make sure that they "preserved the status quo." The president said the same thing:

"I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill," Obama said. "And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.

Saying the bill cannot change the status quo, the President said "there are strong feelings on both sides" about an amendment passed on Saturday and added to the legislation, "and what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo."

In an exclusive television interview in the Map Room of the White House, Obama told ABC News'Jake Tapperthat he was confident that the final legislation will ensure that "neither side feels that it's being betrayed."
It's just great seeing the president defending his principles like that. I'm just not sure what the principle actually is. It certainly isn't that a woman has a fundamental right to make her own reproductive decisions.

Evidently, they are signaling that the Hyde Amendment is their backstop once again. Why they think it will work better the second time around I can't imagine. And why he thinks that he can come up with a compromise that ensures that neither side feels betrayed is frankly beyond me. Where do they go from here? Agree to only restrict Americans' constitutional rights every other week? I don't get it.

All day long, I kept hearing the argument that pro-choice Democrats are going to have to compromise because Pelosi just doesn't have the votes otherwise. But the truth is that she doesn't have the votes without the pro-choice caucus either. Why isn't it just as reasonable to say that Stupak and his crowd should compromise? I hear people say over and over again that Democrats will prove they can't govern if they hold the line on this or that provision and risk tanking the bill. But these Stupak Democrats did it --- and they won. Indeed, many people are hailing the outcome as a triumph of legislative maneuvering. (All except for the women of course, but they're on their own.)

The dynamics working against liberals are fairly obvious: they are the ones who want to help a whole bunch of people in dire straits and nobody else gives a damn. That makes them weaker in the final stages because everyone knows they want it more (that people are desperate) so they will not risk getting nothing at all when so many are suffering. The people who are willing to walk away always have more power in a negotiation.

So, knowing that, why in the hell do they go into every discussion having already given away everything but their bottom line? Especially when the only people with whom they are negotiating are ostensibly on their own team, where presumably the leadership and the president have some extra sway? If there was ever a case for the liberals to go in with guns blazing, demanding repeal of the Hyde Amendment, demanding single payer, demanding huge tax increases on the wealthy, demanding open border access to the health care system (which some countries have.) Then they would have had something to work with.

Instead they went in with the tried and true "don't make trouble" strategy assuring everyone who would listen that they had no intention of upsetting the status quo or causing "distractions" and practically apologizing for even asking for universal coverage. In the end they ended up actually rolling back their position on a matter of fundamental principle. And it sounds like that still isn't going to be enough.

In case you are wondering about the real life effects of playing cheap politics with pregnancy, read this. And this. Contra McGaskill and Tweety, who are misinformed about just about everything, this is actually a big deal. This amendment doesn't just punish Lord Saletan's little sluts. All women will be losing coverage for necessary abortions when a wanted pregnancy goes wrong. It only has an exemption for the life of the mother, but not for her her health, nor for severe and fatal fetal abnormalities. Click those links for what that means in real life.

Update: Thank you Meteor Blades
Joe the obstructionist Nov. 9: Rachel Maddow is joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, to talk about the latest in the health care reform fight, and Sen. Joe Lieberman's, I-CT, filibuster threat if the health reform bill includes a public option.